Leaving Haiti to relief plan a challenge

Amy Scott Mar 31, 2010
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Leaving Haiti to relief plan a challenge

Amy Scott Mar 31, 2010
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TEXT OF STORY

Bob Moon: At a United Nations summit today, officials hope to raise nearly $4 billion to fund recovery efforts in Haiti. That’s just a fraction of the ultimate cost estimate. But relief experts say quick action is needed before hurricane season. Here’s our New York bureau chief, Amy Scott.


Amy Scott: More than 100 countries will be represented at the summit. They’ll be asked to reach deep into their pockets to help rebuild schools, hospitals, roads and housing. Haitian President Rene Preval will present a 50-plus page action plan. The plan calls this opportunity to rebuild “a rendezvous with history that Haiti cannot miss.”

Steve Hollingworth: The big challenge now is supporting the Haitian government to assume control and authority over its own plan.

Steve Hollingworth is chief operating officer of the relief group CARE. He recognizes that many have been critical of the government’s response to the earthquake, but he says before the disaster, the group saw some encouraging signs of cooperation:

Hollingworth: These are things that the, you know, the international donor community, the international NGO community can only do in conjunction with the government of Haiti. And we’ve gotta support them now.

The plan calls for developing regional economic hubs outside of Port-au-Prince. The capital city was home to more than 65 percent of the country’s economic activity.

Wesleyan University’s Alex Dupuy says decentralization is critical, but not if it means creating more low-wage garment industry jobs.

Alex Dupuy: If the intention is to build more of these factories and to emphasize selective agricultural crops for export, then nothing will fundamentally change.

Dupuy says one priority is for Haiti to return to food self-sufficiency. He says the country is the world’s fourth-largest importer of rice from the U.S.

In New York, I’m Amy Scott for Marketplace.

Moon: People in Haiti are skeptical. Producer Anna Hale put that question to Patrick Etienne, a translator at a hospital in Haiti. He worries the government will misspend any international relief money:

Patrick Etienne: A lot of the people who got hurt, who really need it, won’t see any of it. If it falls down in the wrong hands, it will disappear like it’s always disappeared.

Etienne says he’d prefer the U.S. government stepping in to administer all that money.

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